Nashua, NH -- At the close of each year, we like to take a look back to see which stories made an impact on our readers. This year's most read articles show the many twists and turns that the industry took this year and reveal interesting trends for us as editors and for other industry insiders. Have a look at our most popular articles below. And if there was a story that particularly struck you, please let us know what it was in the comment section below. Happy New Year!
The 5th Most Read Article of 2012:
Phoenix Rising: Renewable Energy Good News Comes to Light After Hurricane Sandy,
by Jennifer Runyon, RenewableEnergyWorld.com Managing Editor
Published November 20, 2012
As Sandy ravaged parts of North America three weeks ago, hundreds of power generation assets were threatened. According to SNL Energy, there were 731 operating power plants of 10 MW or larger in the path of the storm. Among these facilities were 20 nuclear plants, 80 coal-fired plants, 237 gas-fired plants and 394 plants of various other fuel types, including hydropower, solar, biomass and wind power plants.
Even though Sandy left many customers in the dark, most of the power outages were caused by distribution and transmission line damage rather than damage to actual generating assets. That said, at least three nuclear power plants were ramped down to “guard against grid overload” said SNL, which also reported that one nuclear plant, Exelon's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, declared an emergency event during the storm, due to flooding of the plant's circulating water system. The emergency event was the third most severe on the NRC event matrix.
As survivors sift through the wreckage and those hardest hit work to restore some semblance of the life they had before the storm, we are all reminded of the power of mother nature and its ability to destroy what mankind has spent decades building. The widespread damage that resulted from the storm has left many people calling for more use of “safer” forms of energy and meaningful action to combat climate change.
The 5th Most Read Blog of 2012:
New York State Encouraging Big Renewables
by Jennifer Runyon
Published June 29, 2012
In the future, the state of New York won’t be known only for its world-famous city and picturesque northern landscape, rather it may soon also be known for its renewable energy projects. Two interesting developments this week should start to attract developers of larger solar and wind power projects to various regions in the state.
In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the NY-Sun Initiative, a plan that brought together the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to help develop and fund a solar energy expansion plan. The goal is to double the amount of non-ultility owned solar power installed annually in New York, and quadruple that amount by 2013.
Yesterday, LIPA announced a CLEAN solar initiative, otherwise known as a feed-in tariff to spur up to 50 MW of commercial and large-scale solar projects in its region over the next two years. Under the program, LIPA will purchase all of the energy generated by local solar projects at a fixed-rate of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years. Projects must be at least 50 kilowatts (kW) in size so residential systems won’t qualify. LIPA said that it expects the largest projects to be in the 3-MW range. The program is capped at 50 MW.
Lead image: Best of the Best 2012 via Shutterstock
The 4th Most Read Article of 2012:
Into Thin Air: The Disappearance of Dozens of Chinese Solar Companies
by Ucilia Wang, Contributing Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Published July 11, 2012
The bankruptcies of roughly two dozen U.S. and European photovoltaic manufacturers have framed much of the story about an oversupply of solar panels and crashing prices over the past year. What's less known is the impact on the PV manufacturing industry in China, where over 50 companies also have closed, said John Lefebvre, president of Suntech Power's American operations, during Intersolar in San Francisco on Wednesday.
The 4th Most Read Blog of 2012:
Solar Grid Parity 101
by John Farrell
Published January 12, 2012
Solar grid parity is considered the tipping point for solar power, when installing solar power will cost less than buying electricity from the grid. It’s also a tipping point in the electricity system, when millions of Americans can choose energy production and self-reliance over dependence on their electric utility.
But this simple concept conceals a great deal of complexity. And given the stakes of solar grid parity, it’s worth exploring the details.
The Cost of Solar
For starters, what’s the right metric for the cost of solar? The installed cost for residential solar ($6.40 in 2011), or commercial solar ($5.20) or utility-scale solar ($3.75)? Even if we pick one of these, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples, because grid electricity is priced in dollars per kilowatt-hour of electricity, not dollars per Watt.
The 3rd Most Read Article of 2012:
More Universities Offering Master's Degrees in Renewable Energy
By Jennifer Runyon, Managing Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Published December 10, 2008
In an effort to help ease the the pain of jobs losses throughout the state and bolster the work force that will be necessary if the U.S. is going to transition to a green economy, four universities in Ohio are collaborating to offer a Masters degree program in renewable energy.
"Ohio is in the midst of major job losses and is trying to reinvent itself as a tech-based economy. One of those ways is in the area of 'green' jobs," said Kevin Hallinan, director of the University of Dayton's master's program in clean and renewable energy.
Renewable energy companies in Ohio were pleased to learn about the state's first master's program in clean and renewable energy. "We consider this program to be good news for us, the U.S. solar industry and the state," said Carol Campbell, First Solar vice president of human resources.
The 3rd Most Read Blog of 2012:
What Is Holding Back Solar Hot Water in the US?
by Jennifer Runyon
Published May 25, 2012
Solar hot water has been a commercialized technology for many, many years now. It had its heyday back in the 1980s when it seemed like everyone was putting a system on his or her roof. Even my dad, the ultra-conservative New York City money manager put one on our house in Connecticut when I was a teenager.
Unfortunately, however, the technology wasn’t all that reliable. I remember quite a few lukewarm showers and my parents’ disappointment that the system wasn’t exactly performing like it was supposed to. From those I’ve spoken to, my parents’ experience with solar hot water in the '80s wasn’t all that unique, either.
As Dad always said, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “as soon as the price of oil went down, no one cared about solar anymore.” He finally paid someone to remove the system in the early 2000s.
But even if my parents stopped caring about solar hot water as soon as the price of oil went down, the passionate solar engineers didn’t stop working to better the technology. And over the last 30 years, the technology has undergone some major improvements.
The 2nd Most Read Article of 2012:
Five Shining Examples of Renewable Energy Innovation and Investment
by Steve Leone, (former) Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Published May 17, 2012
Sinking revenues and shrinking policy support may be causing a bit of a haze on the renewable energy horizon, but there's plenty of sunshine trying to peek through if you look hard enough.
The 2nd Most Read Blog of 2012:
The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy -- What We Like About Solar Energy, And What We Don't
By Craig Shields
Published February 27, 2012
At 2GreenEnergy.com, we’re in the process of developing another in our series of infographics on renewable energy – this one on solar. There’s a lot to like about solar generally, but, as I often point out, there is no such thing as a free lunch. So here is a quick examination of the “pros and cons” of solar.
PRO: The Fuel Is Free, Abundant, and Perfectly Clean. Through nuclear fusion reactions that are taking place a nice, safe distance (93 million miles) from Earth, the sun provides our planet with 6000 times more power than we’re consuming. Though the low latitudes receive more direct sunlight than those closer to the poles, places as far north as Germany and Canada do quite well.
PRO: Distributed Energy: Solar is “The People’s Power.” Solar energy is ideal for deployment at the consumer level, on the rooftops of homeowners, office buildings, etc. This reduces loss of power in transmission from utilities, while reducing the overall importance of those utilities in our lives.
PRO: Solar Comes in Many Flavors, Each of Which Is Advancing Technologically. There are many different technologies by which the sun’s energy is directly converted to electricity via photovoltaics, some of which have the potential to be extremely easy to install, e.g., thin-film, which can be sprayed on windows – transparently.
CON: Intermittence. Solar energy is only available when the sun is shining. If we want to use solar to provide power at night, we need to store the energy. Although there is a variety of options for storage, the most obvious is batteries, which are quite expensive.
The Most Read Article of 2012:
The Question: What is the Most Difficult Issue Facing the Solar Industry?
by RenewableEnergyWorld.com Editors
Published November 15, 2012
It's been a year of both continued expansion and mounting challenges for the global solar industry. RenewableEnergyWorld asked solar industry executives to share their thoughts and insights on one burning question:
The Most Read Blog of 2012:
Top 10: Ten Largest Solar PV Companies
by Oliver Strube, (former) Publisher, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Published June 29, 2010
We get quite a few questions here at RenewableEnergyWorld.com about who the big players in each sector of the renewable energy industry are, so we decided to start pulling together some top 10 lists. Here are the top 10 producers of PV for 2011 according to a report from Energy Trend. These numbers will take you right along the supply chain, from polysilicon to module.
Editor's note: These lists were updated from an entry originally posted in 2010. See below for the 2009 figures in the original post. The 2012 numbers do not reflect thin-film production, only polysilicon-based production.